Coachella day three: Wind storm can't stop Red Hot Chili Peppers
Was it something we said?
A sudden chilliness, high wind advisories and a dust storm of often cinematic intensity conspired to grind the last day of the Coachella festival to a halt.
While the strong gusts of wind and dusty atmosphere only added to the dramatic spectacle of the bigger acts at the event, it was later downright scary for many fans on the way home when visibility seemed to get worse and worse through the night and the 10 freeway was brought to a standstill.
Overall, it was a much colder and windier day that Friday or Saturday, but it was no less exciting musically.
"I feel like I'm in 'Lawrence of Arabia,'" shouted Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis as the band began their satisfying, but somewhat predictable, closing set.
By now, Kiedis, bassist Flea and drummer Chad Smith (who was celebrating his 51st birthday) have it all down to a science, dishing out hit after funky hit with precision and punch.
New-ish guitarist Josh Klinghoffer looked and sounded at home with the band, providing unobtrusive rhythm and fills, punctuated by blazingly fast solos, although his vocal harmonies with Kiedis were often iffy.
This first half of the set relied heavily on newer singles from their two most recent albums, including "Monarchy of Butterflies," "Dani California," "Look Around," "Snow (Hey Oh)" and "Raindance Maggie."
Ten thousand-strong sing-alongs were initiated by some of the older sections played, such as "Otherside," "Under the Bridge," "Give It Away" and "By the Way," plus their hit version of Stevie Wonder's epic "Higher Ground."
The Peppers also teased a few seconds' worth of The Rolling Stones' "Beast of Burden" and started "Can't Stop" with an extended jam.
The L.A. icons closed out the three-day Indio, California festival's main stage on Sunday. The quartet is a Coachella institution by now; they're the only act to have headlined the festival three times, first in '03, and again in '07. Their inclusion was alleged to be a last-minute play by Coachella promoter Goldenvoice, and it felt a little too safe compared to previous headliners, even Friday's fractious Stone Roses and Saturday's buoyant Phoenix.
Although the overcrowded nature of the set made it virtually impossible to get closer than 100 yards or so to the stage (or even see the video screens), it appeared that most of the surviving Clan members (Ol' Dirty Bastard passed away in 2004) were on hand, including RZA, GZA, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, and Master Killer.
Selections included "Bring the Ruckus," "C.R.E.A.M.," "Clan in Da Front," "Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuthing ta F*ck Wit," "Shame on a N*gga" and "Method Man," which displayed the gruff flow of its title hero.
"Push the Sky Away," which came out in February, is the band's first album not to feature founding member Mick Harvey, who exited in 2009, and the first album to feature founding member Barry Adamson since 1986's "Your Funeral... My Trial."
Cave, his longtime musical partner Warren Ellis (the duo have composed music for several films together), the Bad Seeds and a busy string section brought an appropriate measure of sturm und drang to the wind-battered desert, with Cave acting like a demented ringleader on such dark songs as the operatic "Red Right Hand," the cold-blooded "Jack the Ripper," the lurid "Stagger Lee" and the relentless"The Mercy Seat."
Like many music fests, Coachella features a sign-language interpreter standing to the side of the stage during performances, and it was an added treat watching her sign and pantomime her way through "Stagger Lee," a song whose lyrics are vulgar enough to give Saturday performer Danny Brown a run for his money (look them up if you're not familiar with the song).
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds were aided by the adorable, pint-sized choir from the Silverlake Conservatory of Music student choir on the final tune, "Push the Sky Away."
Father John Misty was the closest thing on the bill to a country performer (Goldenvoice will also host the country-flavored Stagecoach Festival at the same location later this month). Alternating between the rootsy alt-country in the Ryan Adams flavor and more straightforward honky tonk rock, Misty frontman Joshua Tillman (formerly of Fleet Foxes) brought with him a touch of yacht rock theatricality and hilarious deadpan stage banter. He sang the praises of free swag, referred to the faraway ferris wheel as the Eye of Sauron, and joked about being a hologram in the tradition of last year's famous Tupac simulacrum which "performed" with Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg.
Another major feature at this year's fest was the annual deluge of Daft Punk rumors. After the French DJ duo (who have a long-awaited new album coming out in May) released a new teaser trailer on the main stage Friday night, word had spread about a possible performance late in the weekend. Despite multiple rumors spreading across the Empire Polo Fields, nothing came to fruition.
Every Coachella has at least one dud of a set, and it's unfortunate to report that this weekend it was the one played by resurrected psychedelic troubadour Rodriguez, through no fault of his own. As featured in last year's Oscar-winning doc "Searching For Sugarman," Rodriguez was greeted with a hero's welcome as he took the stage dressed in black leather with an acoustic guitar and three-man backing bad.
Unfortunately, the sound was turned so low that he was overpowered by the not-so-far-away performers on the other stages (the unaware culprits were Tame Impala and Social Distortion, plus the incessant bass sounds from the dance oriented Do-Lab stage).
The band was likewise tripped up by instrument problems (there was virtually no bass for the first three song attempts and Rodriguez's guitar had to be switched twice).
However, after two aborted tries at "I Wonder," the band finally found a groove (albeit a quiet one) with "Lucille" and "Sugarman," although it often sounded like they couldn't hear themselves playing.
Angelenos get another chance to catch him on Tuesday at the Oprheum Theatre as part of his current nationwide tour.
Meanwhile, aging punk fans received a one-two punch of bands which formed in the '80s and found radio success in the '90s, as Dinosaur Jr. (who reunited its original trip lineup of J.Mascis, Lou Barlow and Murph a few years back) and Social Distortion played to the freak scene of a new generation.
Dino tore through a blistering afternoon set which had teens moshing with thirtysomethings to songs old and new while the latter sounded (and looked) virtually identical to their '90s selfs.
The second weekend of Coachella, featuring an identical lineup, takes place this coming weekend.